Registered Dietitian Elizabeth Somer describes how a folic acid deficiency can affect a woman with depression.
Registered Dietitian Elizabeth Somer:
Folic acid is very important in brain function in general and specifically in depression, but also even in other things like dementia, even schizophrenia. Folic acid, I don’t know whether we have all the pieces of the puzzle yet. Folic acid is very important in the manufacture of certain nerve chemicals like serotonin, and when serotonin levels are high you are happier, so that may be part of the puzzle.
Folic acid is also important in nerve replication, in cell division, and in normal cell function. That may be part of the puzzle. It’s also important in maintaining low levels of a compound in the blood called homocysteine. We know when homocysteine levels are high, that causes inflammation, that causes damage to blood vessel walls, possibly damage to brain cells, which may then contribute to depression and dementia, etcetera
Folic acid keeps that homocysteine level low, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t know whether we figured out all the pieces yet, but we do have a good body of evidence at this point to show that people that don’t get enough folic acid have up to a 67% higher risk of being depressed and when you add folic acid to the diet or folate, in dark green leafy vegetables or in supplements, that you can improve mood and reduce the risk for things like dementia.
About Elizabeth Somer:
Elizabeth Somer, M.A., is a registered dietitian who has carved a unique professional niche as one of the few, if not only, dietitians who is well-versed in nutrition research. For 25 years, she has kept abreast of the current research, packaging that information into easy-to-read books, magazine articles, lectures, continuing education seminars, and practical news for the media.